By Rachel @ Christian Mommies
At some point most of us have made a gratitude list or started a gratitude journal. Then there's the added attention to thankfulness around thanksgiving that may have inspired a few projects. But otherwise, "thank you Lord" may not thoughtfully find it's way into our day to day hustle beyond a quick general thanks via prayer or less.
This was the first year I set out to change that, in part because gratitude alleviates anxiety. It's hard to focus on what if's and problems when you are purposefully thanking God for His blessings and pleasant surprises in your life.
As a non-parent, however, I was hesitant. I suppose my own basic thank yous "thanks for my husband.. my pets.." can be comparable to added defaults for a parent like "thank you for Johnny's first steps.. first day of nursery.. A in math..". I think defaulting to basics burnt me out on previous long term gratitude goals. And I didn't have children to supply an endless list of these.
Unless you're living in a bubble, more stuff than life happens! And this is why I like the "(thoughtful) gratitude jar" idea. It isn't a list you *have to think hard* to come up with creative new entries in one sitting or at the end of every day. You can simply keep it in plain sight and in mind, jumping at opportunities to add a note, as they come. Just keep looking for surprises from above and all the unusual blessings. When something great happens you write it on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in the gratitude container. My gratitude jar isn't even showy, it's just a mason jar with the year taped on the inside. Surprise for me: it's got notes to the brim already!
The first half year's entries were atypical things that happened to me unexpectedly, like random kindness or God's hand of provision. The second half included a rush of entries in part due to going out on some limb's God called me to venture out on. My eureka moment is that this initial effort gave me more than increased gratitude, but more trust in God and motivation to follow His lead boldly. And that resulted with even more to be thankful about. What a faith booster! Going from pat answer gratitude lists (not dissing though, there's a place for much gratitude for the simple things we take for granted) to more unusual blessings that occurred throughout the year made this gratitude jar a huge success. This is set to be a new tradition, and all these lovely scraps of paper will be a wonderful record of God moving in my (not as uneventful as I thought) life.
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